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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pastor Keith's Sermon for Sunday




REFORMATION SERMON BASED UPON John 8:31-36

OCT 27th 2013

The Rev. Dr. Keith A. Spencer,

Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines, FL  

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So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Are we free?
Are we truly free?

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
So says Jesus.
And so I ask: Are we free?

Do we claim, you and I, the freedom to choose?
Have we given up blaming God as some spiritual puppet master pulling the strings – saying as people so often like to say – that everything happens for a reason - we meaning or they meaning, those who say it, that everything that happens, happens, because God wills it to happen, some divine plan unfurling, unfolding, playing out, a drama written by God before the beginning of time, and we playing out our parts superbly, dotting every “I,” crossing every “T,” never missing a beat, a line, a word, an action, a step, a breath, a wink, every word spoken because God has willed it to be…just…like…that.   

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Do we truly believe it? That as we dig deeper than the aphorisms of some cultural faith, beyond the bumper sticker faith of “everything happens for a reason” conflated with God’s will; that we will find a God of freedom?

I pray that we do believe it. That we confess it. That we give thanks for it. That we acknowledge it as dwelling at the very heart of the Christian faith, our freedom in Christ. We acknowledging that we cannot free ourselves, but Christ has freed us. Christ has set us free.

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

See, that is what happened. God, in and through Jesus Christ, broke the bonds of sin and death, their hold no longer the ultimate reality for us. Sin still stalking our world, our lives, tempting us, drawing us away from God, but it power no longer unchecked. Our hope no longer a frustrating exercise in navel gazing and self-interest. Our hope no longer ending in death whose last word mocked us at every turn. No more for us.  

See, this is what happened: Our new selves, having been washed in the waters of baptism where we died to ourselves so that reborn we might live for Christ, freed in Christ, our new selves filled with the Holy Spirit, can now in Christ turn from our old ways to the ways of God, repent, turn around, start afresh, anew, renewed, forgiven.   

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

 
If freedom in and through Christ is at the heart of our Christian faith then Luther says we should take that freedom and use it to serve and love God and neighbor.

Listen: this is where it all comes together or all falls apart.
Loving and serving God and loving and serving neighbor.

And if that is too complicated, then we can distill it down to this: We show our greatest and deepest love for God in loving and serving our neighbor. There is no clearer and more honest and humble way to embody Christ, then by loving and serving our neighbor with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our souls and all of our strength.

Let me say that again: There is no clearer and more honest and humble way to embody Christ, then by loving and serving our neighbor with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our souls and all of our strength.

Oh, there are other things we could do with our freedom.

We could complain about this or that, parroting the complaints of others, our friends and neighbors and colleagues; or people we hear on the TV or radio or catch on the internet, Facebook being a place where complainers gather like Wildebeests in Africa at the watering hole during the dry season. We could spend our freedom complaining and accomplish nothing else.  

We are free to do that, like we are free to ignore the poor, the hungry, the unemployed and underemployed, the abused, those kept in modern slavery in our state, in our country, in our world; the plight of the immigrants, legal or not, who are to the surprise of some and probably too many, children of God and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and likely facing a mountain of abuse, misunderstanding, racism, prejudice and need, they and their children and their children’s children. We could spend our freedom ignoring the poor, and the hungry, and the immigrant, and the marginalized and accomplish nothing else.  

We are free to do that, like we are free to live for ourselves, to be a church that exists to serve its members, to care for their needs with all of its strength, its passion and its resources; to turn away from the mission field, leave the seed of God’s word, God’s love, God’s grace – all meant for scattering out in the mission field – we could instead leave it in some dark corner or closet along with boxes of old Sunday school filmstrips, and Bible songs on 33 rpm LPs and bags of countless tinsel of Christmases long past; leave it all and withdraw from the world, to create our own world inside these walls.  But let me ask: Would we use our freedom to be that church? A church of moats and drawbridges that withdraws from the world?

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

The Reformation that we commemorate this day was about God and God’s gift of a grace-infused freedom. And we are free, my friends. We are free to make choices as children of God and together as a community of faith. And each and every choice we make, or will ever make, bears witness to the world about the heart of God. And what will our witness be?

What will our witness of the heart of God be?

Amen.

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